Bushmills Football Pitch to be Bulldozed for Parking?

A Council plan to bulldoze Dundarave football pitch and newly constructed changing facilities in the centre of the village of Bushmills has been described by a Councillor as; “A blatant attack on the working class community of Woodvale and Dundarave”.

The pitch and changing facilities were developed, only five years ago, by the legacy Moyle District Council with an estimated three quarters of a million pounds investment. Plans to waste that investment, meant to support working class communities have been savaged by one former Moyle Councillor.

The comments, from the most unlikely of sources, emanated from Independent Glens Councillor Padraig McShane.

He spoke out after a Tourism Parking study commissioned by Council indicated that Dundarave football pitch should be used as an overspill for the Giants Causeway World Heritage Site and a signed petition from residents was ignored by senior executives.

The Councillor stated;

“I attended a familiarisation trip to several sites in the village with a number of Councillors. Before studies into the most suitable sites have been completed, a Council Executive was advising that only Dundarave football pitch will seriously be considered for new parking.

“I posed several questions highlighting the Covenants and planning restrictions that existed on the lands. In addition I asked about the need for ‘green spaces’ and leisure facilities adjacent to residents but the questions were dismissed. The health benefits of green space adjacent to working class residential communities are proven to enhancing life chances.

“In addition I asked if there was a petition signed by up to 600 residents in the village campaigning to retain the football pitch and the newly constructed changing facilities. Senior Executives did indicate there was a petition but unbelievable, they dismissed its relevance. 

“There is clear evidence that private Business interests in the village have influence at Executive level in Council and are riding roughshod over the interests of working class communities. The document presented to Council and giving a scoring matrix on sites did not at any stage consider the impact on the community. I raise these points not only for Bushmills, but numerous projects that seem on the surface to be legitimate but, on closer inspection, have preordained outcomes. 

“The idea that we remove these facilities from the heart of the community and provide them on an edge of or out of settlement location beggars belief!”

Anyone requiring further information is asked to contact Councillor McShane on 07828112129

A sketch of Dundarave sports facilities. Car parking envisaged inside the red lines.


Why Dungiven Matters to Ballycastle & The Glens

If the new facilities were developed in Dungiven, it would reduce revenue (annual year on year) costs by £70,000 for the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council. That is £70,000 saved each year, largely due to energy efficiencies found in new construction methods. To put it in context. That is £70,000 per year over the lifetime of the centre, taken at an average 40 years. That equates to £2.8million saving for the rate payer in the district – less the £350,000 initial capital investment. I can not stress this enough.
What is holding back Dungiven is equally holding back development in Cushendall, the Glens, Ballycastle and Loughgiel. Each an area of historical inequality and underinvestment. 
The reality for the new government authority is plain. If they wish to invest to enhance community and sporting facilities, they are obliged to do so in Nationalist and Republican areas where that historic inequality will require a generation of investment to balance out with those Councils who delivered for one section of the community. The stats are backed up by countless workshops and research done within and outwith the Council.
For the Glens Ward (Rathlin Ballycastle Loughgiel Waterfoot Cushendun Cushendall) inequalities to be addressed, it is vitally important that a common sense and business like approach is taken to Dungiven to release additional capital for the future. Other more unpalatable avenues are open to us as Councillors to raise funds should sectarianism continue to be the final arbitrator.
I was pleased to be asked to speak at the debate on Dungiven sports facilities last night in the County Derry town.
At the public meeting, those Unionists opposed to investing in Dungiven give no logically compelling, deeply informed or rational reason for blocking a perfectly sensible business case. That speaks for itself.

Tourism/Leisure Complex in Ballycastle Equates to 1% on Rate.

A new Tourism-Leisure facility in Moyle would increase rates by as little as one percent under a new super-council arrangement set to be in place by 2014. But a Councillor Claims rates are set to fall further for the residents of the District as they become part of a new local government structure.



Following months of work Independent Councillor Padraig McShane is to present a case for the development of a Tourism-Leisure facility on the Quay Road, Ballycastle.



The Councillor is set to propose that Moyle prepare a robust case for the development to be put forward to the transition committee for consideration. The transition committee is made up of Councillors from Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady and Moyle areas that are set to make up the Causeway Coast and Glens Super-council.



It is believed that talks are already underway as other Councils recognise and have identified the need in Moyle.

Councillor Mc Shane himself a member of the committee said;



“The making of a case for this facility was never going to be easy. The history of Moyle has been one of excessive rates bills and very poor services. To develop a facility of that nature today would increase the rate by fifteen percent in Moyle. To develop it through the new super-council structures will increase the rate by only one percent.


“That fact belies the truth in real terms. Moyle ratepayers will see a substantial drop in their rates as an equilibrium is created throughout the Super Council area.”



The Councillor has visited several Leisure facilities and several Council areas to find out what ‘Best Practise’ models are being used to provide swimming and leisure facilities.

Councillor Mc Shane continued;



“What others take for granted, the people of Moyle are asked to do without. Our job as Councillors is not to make money but to offer services for residents. Moyle must position itself to address a historical legacy that has seen the needs of the local community, the business sector and indeed the tourism sector be ignored because of its geographical isolation and low population base.


“The needs analysis has already been completed alongside a  robust business case performed by one of Europes leading Leisure consultancies. It evidences the requirement for this facility in Moyle. The multi-million pound investment is a must for the sustainability of the North East corner of the new Super-council.

Meeting with the Head's of Leisure at Greenvale, Magherafelt's recently refurbished Leisure facility.

Meeting with the Head’s of Leisure at Greenvale, Magherafelt’s recently refurbished Leisure facility.

Ballycastle Sea Front Activity Pool

This video was brought together by Ciaran Laverty, Laverty Architecture. http://www.lavertyarchitecture.co.uk/

Ciaran has stated that he brought the video together over a few spare hours. I spoke with him and asked if he would like to present it to Council in the near future. While it is only an idea at present he has indicated his desire to help in the promotion of the area and would be willing to look at it in more detail.
Costings, staffing, insurance and the dreaded ‘health and safety’ would all be key factors to consider.
It would possibly take a few years to pull something like this all together, indentify funding, etc but what views currently exist out there?
The Tourism/Leisure facility is still the key driver both in economic and health and wellbeing terms in the re-generation of Ballycastle and I hope to be able to convince my colleagues of the need for the scheme as we go forward into a Causeway Coast and Glens super Council.
Design & Planning are the first stages of that particular project and while nearly all the Ballycastle Councillors support the idea, it seems to become less favourable with the other Councillors in Moyle. The five Causeway Councillors have recently all voiced their opposition on the issue, claiming its a waste of money, but given much of the ward is situated closer to Coleraine than Ballycastle, it is easy to see a selfish rational being adopted.
I would like to hear your thoughts on both ideas if you wish to share!

Ballintoy Muga Upgrade

Moyle Council have agreed to take the lead in an application to the North East Partnership Village Renewal programme to upgrade recreation facilities in the village of Ballintoy.

The application, if approved, will see the first Muga, or multi games area in the village alongside a new upgraded play park.

The village has long been without proper facilities due to the lack of available ground. Council intend to maximise their lands at the play park to finally support parents and kids in the village.

It is hoped that the new Multi Games Area will be the first of several to be made available all over Moyle. The opportunity to enhance and improve the physical condition of children through these developments have a proven track record that alone makes them value for money.

Muga for Ballintoy

Gaza Journalist Visits Moyle

Waterfalls with Paddy Mooney

Laragh Lodge Visit

A leading journalist from Gaza has arrived in Moyle this week on a fact finding mission following the Council’s recent Twinning Agreement with the coastal Mediterranean Municipality .

Award winning freelance journalist Yousef Al-Helou, best known for his work with Press TV, was introduced to several local Councillors and had a brief introduction to local politics on his recent visit.
Mr Al-Helou said,
“The Palestinians of Gaza City were delighted to hear the news about the Twinning Agreement with Moyle. Many times in the past we have felt the International Community in the West ignored our plight. By this simple act alone, the people of Moyle have truly lifted the spirits and the resolve of the people in Gaza who continue to suffer the humiliating effects of the siege. This agreement will enable both people’s in the two Districts to exchange knowledge, culture and best practise leading to a better future for us all.
The visit was organised by the local, Antrim to Gaza group who toured Mr. Al-Helou around the District including the Causeway, Rope-Bridge and several days in the Glens.
Mr Al-Helou concluded;

“I will return to Gaza with stories of Giants and Fairies plus beautiful Waterfalls. I will also return with the Knowledge that Moyle is home to some of the kindest people on earth. I hope that I may return to Moyle in the near future to brief the local people of what life is like in Gaza ”.

Yousef Al-Halou outside Moyle DC.